(1963, Indore, Undivided India)



Nilofer Suleman approaches her paintings in the spirit of a storyteller who enjoys nesting one episode inside another, arranging them within framed narratives and larger, circulating cycles of tales. Visually, her paintings embody the spirit of parataxis or collage through which the artists of the Mughal, Rajput, Pahari and Adilshahi ateliers bore witness to their experience of a complex and multi-dimensional world nourished by diverse sources of cultural inspiration. The movie poster, the signboard, street graffiti, studio portraiture, the devotional oleograph – all these demotic forms of expression inform her work, as do the more restrained painterly idioms of the temple, the court and the marketplace. Importantly, there is no hierarchy of sources or citations in Suleman’s art. Instead, there is a kaleidoscopic relay of imagery.

In Suleman’s realm of exquisite illusions, both windows and carpets open onto vistas, and the elements of her architecture are liable to grow wings. Suleman, who devoted herself to cartography for many years, now maps terrains that are shaped by family memory, fabular narrative, embroidered travellers’ tales and sensory excitements. Her protagonists seem to have stepped out of one genre of miniature painting or another, sometimes displaying the elongated ‘further eyes’ of Jaina manuscript illuminations or folk deities from the eastern seaboard, and at other times equipped with the almond eyes prized in Mughal painting. The bioscope, that portable precursor of cinema, is celebrated in Suleman’s art, its views into secret or distant worlds offering her a metaphor for what art can do for its celebrants.

Suleman’s solo exhibitions with Art Musings include Jantar Mantar, 2015; Bombay Bioscope, 2012; We Two Ours One, 2010-2011; Sulemani Chai, 2009. She has also shown with the gallery at the 2009, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2016, 2018 & 2022 editions of the India Art Fair, New Delhi. Group Exhibitions with Art Musings include Strange and Sublime Addresses, 2019; The 20th, 2019; The Gallery Collection, 2016. The artist lives and works in Bangalore.